John Fakan Obituary
Dr. John C. Fakan, a long-time resident of Vermilion, Ohio, and skipper of the U.S.S.
COD Submarine Memorial in Cleveland, entered his eternal rest on Thursday, July 5 after a
long and courageous battle against cancer. John was born on May 10, 1934 in Cleveland, Ohio.
After graduating from John Marshall High School he went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in
Physics from Ohio University (1957), a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering (1966) and
a PhD in Systems Engineering (1968) from Colorado State University.
Considered to be a modern-day Thomas Jefferson due to his unquenchable thirst for learning
and tireless public service, "Dr. John," as he was known to his many friends, was a member and
past-President of the Cleveland Philosophical Society, a trustee of the Great Lakes Historical
Society, a member of the Board of Directors of the Historic Naval Ships Association, and the
President of the Cleveland Coordinating Committee for COD, the group that oversees the
preservation of the U.S.S. COD World War II submarine.
John was a brilliant man who spent thirteen years as an Aerospace Engineer in the
Electromagnetic Propulsion Division of NASA's Lewis Research Center in Brookpark, Ohio. He
helped develop and test the electronic and propulsion systems that enabled America's lunar
landing and the design of quieter jet engines for commercial airliners. He received a number
of patents for his work and an Apollo Achievement Award from NASA.
John left NASA to found and direct the Medical Data Systems Corporation, one of the first
in the country to provide real-time, automated information systems for physicians' offices,
hospitals and clinics. During the 1970s, he also served as a senior consultant for the design
of the Great Lakes Very High Frequency Communications System and designed a cutting edge,
automated radio-telephone system that covered the Great Lakes via fourteen unmanned computerized
shore stations controlled from a central operations center. John was scheduled to test part of
the system aboard the Steamship Edmund Fitzgerald in November 1975 but had to cancel at the last
minute when his colleague fell ill; the ship sank on the voyage with all hands lost.
For the past twenty-five years, John directed a crew of dedicated volunteers restoring and
maintaining the U.S.S. COD, a National Historic Landmark on Cleveland's North Coast Harbor.
Submarine COD is a floating memorial to those who gave their lives in defense of our Nation
in the 112-year history of the U.S. Navy's Submarine Force. In 2011 the Historic Naval Ships
Association presented him with its highest honor-the Casper J. Knight, Jr. Award, noting that
he had led the "transformation of COD into one of the finest warship restorations in the world."
Dr. John will be fondly remembered by the thousands of individuals whose lives he touched
during his 78 years of life. None will miss him more than his family. John is survived by his
wife of 53 years, Helene K. (Csincsak) Fakan, son Stephen G. Fakan, daughters Debra A. Shattuck
and Sandra M. Fakan, grandchildren, Sarah M. Holecko, David L. Shattuck, Matthew A. Fakan,
Kristen A. Haegele, and Kathryn J. Shattuck, sisters Diane Kay, Sherry Ross, Marceda Ryan,
Lynn Bucaro and brother, Brian Fakan.
Fair winds and following seas, as you commence eternal patrol, John.
Last revised 26 July 2012
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